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Hall of Fame boxing Klitschko brothers vow to join Ukraine in 'bloody war' vs. Russia

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Former boxer Wladimir Klitschko (L), a member of the Kyiv Territorial Defense Brigade, said he will defend Ukraine against Russia. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Former boxer Wladimir Klitschko (L), a member of the Kyiv Territorial Defense Brigade, said he will defend Ukraine against Russia. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Hall of Fame boxers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko will join Ukraine in its defense against Russia after the neighboring country's invasion of their homeland, the brothers announced.

"I don't have another choice," Vitali said Thursday on Good Morning Britain. I have to do that. I would fight."

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Vitali, 50, is now the mayor of Kyiv and head of the Ukraine capital's city state administration. The multi-time wold champion retired from professional boxing in 2013. The 6-foot-7 former heavyweight went 45-2 with 41 knockouts over his career.

"It's already a bloody war," Vitali said. "Ukrainians are already dying. We don't have exact numbers, but we know many examples."

Vitali also said that he believes Ukrainians can defend against the Russians and he is now working with the Ukrainian military and police to support delivery of heating, gas, electricity, water and other "critical infrastructure" to citizens amid the invasion.

"I believe," he said. "I believe in Ukraine. I believe in my country. I believe in my people."

Vitali announced Feb. 2 on Facebook that Wladimir joined Kyiv's Territorial Defense Brigade, a reserve component of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Wladimir, 45, criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin in a lengthy post Friday on LinkedIn.

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"Here, we will defend ourselves with all our might and fight for freedom and democracy," Wladimir wrote. "You can also act. Let not fear seize us; let's not remain frozen. Putin shoots at Ukrainian cities, but he aims at our hearts and, more importantly, at our minds."

Wladimir also called on others to mobilize and organize "huge demonstrations" to proclaim that "international law and democracy are under attack, that war is the greatest evil and that life is sacred."

"[Putin] makes it clear that he wants to destroy the Ukrainian state and the sovereignty of its people. Words are followed by missiles and tanks. Destruction and death come upon us. That's it, blood will mix with tears."

Wladimir, also was a multi-time world champion. The 6-foot-6 former heavyweight went 64-5, with 53 knockouts during his career. He also won a gold medal at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. Wladimir last fought in 2017.

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